The Mayor of London said that Londoners’ respect for coronavirus restrictions was the reason why the capital was seeing lower infection rates than other parts of England, convincing the government to place it under tier 2 restrictions rather than the stricter tier 3 after the lockdown ends on Wednesday 2 December.
“Londoners have done exactly what has been asked of them since the start of this pandemic,” Mr Khan said in a statement released on Twitter.
“Their monumental sacrifice managed to keep the number of cases lower in our city than most other parts of the country since the summer.”
Earlier today, the government that most of England will go into tougher levels of coronavirus restrictions after the lockdown. Some 55 million people — or close to 99 percent of the population — will continue to face stringent coronavirus curbs.
Only Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight will be placed under the milder tier 1. Large parts of the Midlands, North East and North West will be placed under the more restrictive tier 3. Other areas, including London, will be in the second tier.
Under the second tier, Londoners face a ban on different households meeting indoors. They will be able to meet outside in groups of no more than six people. Pubs and restaurants will only be able to sell alcohol with a “substantial meal”.
Mr Khan said the decision to place London in tier 2 was “right” because the number of new coronavirus cases was falling in most of the capital’s boroughs, but warned Londoners to keep their guard up.
“There must be no complacency — we know how quickly this virus can spread and we all need to keep playing our part and drive the numbers down further across our city,” he said.
“While we now know what restrictions will be from next Wednesday, there remains almost a week of lockdown still to go and it’s absolutely vital that Londoners continue following the rules to reduce the spread of the virus,” he said.
Mr Khan said that the placement under the second tier was welcome news for London’s shops and hospitality venues, but criticised the government, saying it was “a mistake” to fail to scrap the curfew.
“I’m extremely disappointed that the govt is sticking with specific measures that seem to cause more harm than good,” he said. “It is a real blow to pubs, bars and restaurants who have endured such a difficult year and deserve better.”
In a press conference in Downing Street on Thursday, the government’s chief medical advisor Chris Whitty warned that tier 2 restrictions might not be enough to curb the spread of the virus and might only “hold the line” for some time.
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance added that the previous tier system introduced in the country did not manage to decrease the infection rate enough.
“The message is that the tiers worked in terms of slowing but didn't work in terms of flattening and reversing it,” he said.
“The national lockdown looks as if it has flattened it and is sending it downwards and it is important we do bring it down because numbers remain high.”
London had the fourth-lowest regional coronavirus positivity rate in the country in the week between15 and 21 November after the East, South East and South West of England. The figures show that 0.9% of Londoners were estimated to test positive to the virus that week — below the England average of 1.2%.
Additional reporting by PA